The launch of the third weather balloon is a success for NewMakeIt’s Build Club

The weather balloon reached an altitude of just over 100,000ft – a personal best for the Newmarket Build Club.

It was another successful launch for NewMakeIt’s Build Club, whose weather balloon rose to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere on November 6.

After a postponement due to the pandemic, the six-year-old club’s third launch from Newmarket did not set the record for the highest balloon altitude as they had hoped, but at over 100,000ft , it was their highest to date.

Like previous launches, “this was a learning experience,” said Ryan Dibisch, executive director of NewMakeIt.

A payload carrying a camera, temperature sensors and tracking devices to conduct experiments was sent with the balloon. When the balloon reached its burst height, it burst and the payload descended.

The balloon measured six feet in diameter at launch and 38 feet in diameter at burst altitude. Once there was enough air in the atmosphere to inflate it, a parachute opened to allow the payload to land safely and slowly.

Based on calculated wind speeds and weather conditions, the team estimated a flight path and landing location in Port Hope.

The payload did indeed land not too far from Port Hope, but according to Dibisch, the landing was not without some difficulty.

“Our predictions were so close we could see him fall, but we were a bit heartbroken when he landed on the high voltage wires.”

The team spoke to a local farmer and sent a drone to get footage of the trapped payload, but there was no way to bring it down.

Luckily, during the night the wind blew the burst balloon down and the farmer contacted the team to let them know. They were able to get it back and everything was still functional, Dibisch said.

“There was a 150ft drop that did a little damage to the hull, but it didn’t really affect the cameras or the objects that were inside.”

A 360-degree camera provided by launch sponsor Insta360, a camera manufacturer, was mounted on the front of the payload, allowing the team to learn about changes for future launches.

Originally, the group planned to involve pupils from Newmarket Secondary School so that they had the opportunity to learn from the process.

A program was developed where high school students could actually manage the whole process, from preparing the balloon and payload to creating experiments to send with them.

The students’ ideas for experiments ranged from sending young trees up to see how they are doing at 100,000 feet, to developing a device that would make ice cream.

Just when they were about to kick off the pandemic. The students involved have since graduated and none of their experiences were used in the recent launch, but the group still plans to bring the program to schools in the future.

Local enthusiasts aren’t the only ones impressed by the successful launches; the team also gained international recognition.

According to Dibisch, a school in Bermuda is interested in collaborating with the team. The school conducts deep-sea dives with a remote submarine, and Dibisch hopes to “twin” a Newmarket school with the Bermuda school so students can learn from each other’s experiences.

The launch was dedicated to the late Build Club member Kyle Luchetti. To honor Luchetti, some of his ashes were included in the payload, allowing them to travel to the outer reaches of space and back.

Based on what they’ve learned this time around, the club is eyeing the spring for its fourth launch which Dibisch said will “definitely” involve local students.

“We were going to take what we learned from it and try to make it an even better and more predictable launch than this one, even though this one went very, very well, except for the incident with the power line.